These top business leaders have landed in trouble over their words and actions. Their statements have prompted boycotts, protests and widespread criticism. Just because they’re at the top of the company food chain doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally (or consistently in Donald Trump’s case) stick their foot in their mouth.Check out some CEOs who have said and done some pretty dumb things.
Eich, the co-founder of Mozilla, enjoyed a short, 11-day stint as CEO of Mozilla after his 2008 political donation became a political firestorm. Eich made a $1,000 donation in support of Proposition 8, a California ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage in that state. The measure passed, but was overturned in 2013 by the Supreme Court.Eich’s donation to the antigay movement was made public two years earlier, but his promotion to CEO elevated the outcry and angered Mozilla employees and clients. Before his resignation, Eich defended his actions to The Guardian, saying “I don’t want to talk about my personal beliefs because I kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we’ve been going … I don’t believe they’re relevant.’’ ]]>
Jeffries, the CEO of clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch, landed in hot water last year over comments he made during a 2006 interview with Salon came to light. In the interview, Jeffries opened up about his focus on “attractive’’ people and said he was OK with excluding heavier customers.“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids … Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends.’’He went on to say, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.’’ ]]>
Dennis “Chip’’ Wilson
The founder of yoga apparel company Lululemon Athletica found himself in the downward-facing doghouse last year when he responded to complaints that the pants were piling by saying, “quite frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it’’ during an interview with Bloomberg TV last year.Wilson gets an honorable mention for his 2004 remarks in which he said he chose the name Lululemon for his company because he believed Japanese people have a hard time pronouncing it. “It’s funny to watch them try and say it,’’ Wilson told the National Post Business Magazine. ]]>
The co-CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, compared the Affordable Care Act to “fascism’’ during a 2013 interview with NPR. In the interview, Mackey said, “In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.’’ Mackey wrote on the Whole Foods blog the following day, calling his remarks “a poor word choice.’’ ]]>
The chairman and family heir to the Barilla pasta company, Guido Barilla, was criticized last year after he said he would not produce a commercial depicting a same-sex family. On an Italian radio program, Barilla said, “I would never make a spot with a homosexual family … Not out of a lack of respect but because I do not see it like they do. (My idea of) family is a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role.’’Barilla apologized for his remarks and pledged to meet with gay and lesbian groups to calm the controversy. ]]>
Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy ignited a national debate over the line between free speech and fast food when he voiced his support of traditional marriage in 2012 by saying, “guilty as charged.’’ Cathy told the Baptist Press “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that…we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.’’The controversy sparked a series of protests and counter-protests at numerous Chick-fil-A franchises. ]]>
American Apparel was criticized in 2012 for targeting customers in states affected by Hurricane Sandy with a targeted e-mail. The e-mail was sent to customers in nine states affected by the storm and invited those who were “bored during the storm’’ to enter promo code SANDYSALE. CEO Dov Charney made a bad situation worse when he responded by saying, “I’m sleeping well at night knowing this was not a serious matter.’’ ]]>
The Donald earned his place on this list when he said he was “proud of [himself]’’ after President Obama released a copy of his official birth certificate, essentially taking credit for putting the “birther’’ debate to rest (which for the record, he didn’t). Trump went on to say “I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role’’ in the release of the president’s birth certificate.Trump gets an honorable mention for challenging President Obama to release his college transcripts and for going on an angry Twitter rant after the president’s 2012 re-election victory in which he said, among other things, “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!’’ ]]>
Tony Hayward was CEO of British Petroleum during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that affected the Gulf of Mexico. An explosion killed 11 oil workers on the rig and oil began to leak from the ocean floor. Hayward and BP initially downplayed the effects of the spill, saying the environmental impact would be “very, very modest’’ on May 17, 2010. On May 30, 2010, Hayward told a reporter “There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I’d like my life back.’’ He was widely criticized for the remarks which were seen as insensitive to those immediately impacted by the spill. Hayward was replaced as BP’s CEO later that year. ]]>
The real estate mogul became known as the “Queen of Mean’’ after a former housekeeper testified during Helmsley’s federal tax evasion trial that she heard Helmsley say “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.’’ She received a four-year sentence but served only 21 months in prison.Helmsley’s attorney Alan Dershowitz once said the tyrannical business woman terrorized a waiter who brought her a cup of tea with a small bit of water on the saucer. Helmsley apparently smashed the cup on the floor and ordered the waiter to beg for his job on his hands and knees. Still think your boss is tough to work for? ]]>
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